cover image Loon Baby

Loon Baby

Molly Beth Griffin, illus. by Anne Hunter. Houghton Mifflin, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-547-25487-6

Loon Baby's mother dives for dinner%E2%80%94"ker-splish!"%E2%80%94and disappears for what seems to Loon Baby a very long time. "He stuck his head under the cool waves to look./ Nothing but green lake-light." Hunter's (Who Would Like a Christmas Tree?) drawings of Loon Baby's lake are washed in gentle greens and blues and hatched with delicate ink lines. Visually, there's little to be frightened of, but Loon Baby's spirits sink low ("Loon Baby wailed a cry.../ a sinking, giving-up cry") before Mama reappears: "But then%E2%80%94/ A black head!/ A red eye!" In a final development, Loon Baby's relief makes the intimidating work of diving possible at last. Debut author Griffin does a good job of keeping the story's action and tension manageable, and the lyrical and rhythmic possibilities in simple language are thoughtfully developed: "together/ they kick-flipped/ through the green lake-light,/ all the way home.../ to their soft, warm nest/ by the little round lake/ in the great north woods." While understated, the story has a sturdy quality that should stand up to repeated read-alouds. Ages 4%E2%80%938. (Apr.)